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I mean, when it comes to my protagonist and love interest(s), I know super basics like name and physical description, but if I’ve fleshed out any personality at all it’s usually only a really vague idea, if anything.
The truth is, I don’t really get to know my characters until I’ve started first drafting—and that also goes for my protagonist. And for me, this where the fun almost-pantsing comes in—because while I know pretty much how the plot is going to lay out, I don’t really know how my characters are going to develop, at least, not in the first draft.
This is also why I don’t call a WIP a WIP until I’ve hit 10,000 words—I have, on more than one occasion, started writing a totally solid idea then put it away because the protagonist’s voice just didn’t sit with me. But that’s something I really can’t predict until I’ve started writing.
There are a few things my protagonists tend to have in common: they’re often snarky because I’m a snarkmonster IRL, they’re often internally conflicted because I love writing internal conflict, and many times they’re outcasts of some sort, because I love writing characters on the fringe of society.
But honestly? That stuff can manifest in limitless ways, and there’s still so much room for drastically different personalities, and ways of speaking and thinking and viewing the world. And I love figuring it out along the way, and I never tire of having a protagonist surprise me with a stray thought, or memory, or off-handed comment, or unexpected action that I never could have predicted from day one.
In later drafts is where I then take those personality seeds and push them further. It’s where I dig into characters and unearth the stuff the first draft hinted at—it’s where I push them harder to be raw and real.
Unlike plotting, I tend to develop my characters really instinctively. From a wisp of an idea upon character conception to a fully-developed, layered character over time.
And that’s how I develop my characters. How do you develop yours?
Writer @Ava_Jae shares how she develops characters instinctively. What does character development look like for you? (Click to tweet)